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Bureau table

Object number



Maker Unknown


32 35 3/4 20 in. (81.28 90.81 50.8 cm)



Current location

Private Collection


Made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)


Mahogany (primary); maple (rear brackets, cupboard sides, drawer dividers, case bottom, long drawer bottom, and long drawer rear support); red cedar (small drawer linings); chestnut (cupboard top, drawer supports, drawer divider backings, and bottom of desk interior); white pine (drawer supports, case back, bottoms and sides of exterior drawers, and vertical and horizontal blocks on feet)




"1" through "5," in graphite, on interior backs of interior drawers [proper-right to proper-left]; "A" through "E," in graphite, on exterior bottoms of interior drawers; "A1" through "C1," in graphite, on interior backs of proper-right exterior drawers [from top to bottom]; "A2" through "C2," in graphite, on interior backs of proper-left exterior drawers [from top to bottom]; mathematical calculations, in chalk, on exterior proper-right side of drawer marked "C1"; "A1" through “C1,” in graphite, on tops of dividers under proper-right exterior drawers [from top to bottom]; “A2” through “C2,” in graphite, on tops of dividers under proper-left exterior drawers [from top to bottom]


Descended in the family of Dr. Silvester Gardiner (1708–1786), South Kingstown and Newport, Rhode Island, Boston, and Peel, England. Private collection, 1985

Associated names

Silvester Gardiner


The single-board rectangular oblong top is molded on its front and side edges, where it is supported by a single-piece beaded cove molding, which, like the top, overhangs slightly at the back. The top is secured to the case below with dovetail keys and large longitudinal blocks. The shell-carved frieze drawer front is hinged, fitted with brass chains, and opens to form a writing desk with a fitted interior, consisting of a concave-blocked prospect drawer flanked by beaded stiles, convex-blocked drawers, and concave-blocked drawers, with open compartments above and a molded base below. The case back is chamfered at the sides and top and consists of four horizontal boards half-lapped to each other and fixed with rosehead and other nails to blocking under the top and to rabbets in the two-board case sides. The interior small-drawer fronts meet their arched-top drawer sides in dovetail joints having finely cut pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The drawer-side tops flatten toward the back as they align with their chamfered-top drawer backs. The small-drawer bottoms, some two-board and some one-board, some parallel with, and some perpendicular to their fronts, are glued into rabbets in the sides and backs. Below are two banks of small, convex-blocked drawers, whose fronts meet their sides with dovetail joints having finely cut, narrow-necked dovetails, with half-pins above and below. The drawer sides are shy of their fronts, and have rounded tops. The drawer backs have chamfered tops and are rounded at the corners to align with their drawer-side tops. The drawer bottoms are perpendicular to the fronts; some are two-board, some are one-board. They are chamfered at the front and sides, where they fit into grooves. The drawer sides are full height, reinforced with thin glue blocks. The bottoms are secured to the backs with rosehead nails. Within the case are drawer supports fixed to the case sides with rosehead nails. Vertical drawer stops are glued into the corners at the backboards. The drawer dividers have integral cockbeading; the cockbeading at the case sides and vertical partitions is applied with brads. The central portion of the bottom of the drawer divider below the shell-carved frieze drawer is not beaded. Drawer dividers and the top and bottom rails meet the case sides and vertical partitions in half-blind dovetail joints. The recessed central section contains a rectangular hinged door with an arched, fielded panel. The tenons of the joints by which the stiles and rails are joined are visible in the door?s edge. Two sets of grooves within the compartment indicate the former location of shelves, now missing. The case bottom consists of three boards, one large and two small, dovetailed to the case sides. On the case bottom below the recessed door and between the outer front feet and the rear feet are mahogany strips applied with rosehead nails. Each front foot consists of two horizontal carved glue blocks mitered at the corners, to which is applied a carved, vertical block, the whole faced with ogee bracket feet, volute-carved and convex-blocked in front. The rear feet are constructed similarly, but for their back faces, which are simple, flat ogee brackets set into grooves in the side-facing ogee brackets. Examined by P. E. Kane and W. S. Braznell, August 21, 2012; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd


Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 233n3, 280n3.